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Posted: Tuesday, 05 November 2019 23:45

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After sea-ageing wines now ready for space-maturing soon

Nov 05: Under-water seasoning of wines may soon be passé with a Luxembourg based start-up ready to send 12 bottles of red Bordeaux as payload in the Space Cargo Unlimited space craft as the wines have arrived at the International Space Station to study the effect on flavours in outer space, reports Subhash Arora

Maturing of wines under sea or lake water might be fascinating and known for changing the wine characteristics somewhat, but it might become passé or at least a new exotic process of ageing may be on the horizon with wines from Bordeaux being sent into space for scientific experiments.

The red Bordeaux wine will be in the space, ageing for a year before returning to the planet with the researchers studying how weightlessness and space radiation affect the ageing process. A dozen bottles of fine Bordeaux wine bottles in metal canisters to avoid breakages, have arrived at the International Space Station.

The bottles were flown up aboard a Northrop Grumman capsule launched from Virginia on Saturday and arrived at the ISS yesterday. Universities in Bordeaux, France, and Bavaria in Germany have joined hands for the experiment by the start-up from Luxembourg.

‘Winemaking uses yeast and bacteria, and involves chemical processes, making wine ideal for space study’, said University of Erlangen-Nuremberg’s Michael Lebert, the scientific director for the experiments. The taste and flavour aromas of the space-aged wine will be compared to the same Bordeaux wines ageing on Earth for a similar period and temperature of 18°C. Scientists as well as producers agree that the microgravity will have some effect on the flavour of the wines.

A spokesman for Space Cargo Unlimited says that their work is more following in the footsteps of Louis Pasteur who essentially developed pasteurization though experiments with wine fermentation. To that end, one hopes that this experiment will produce results that could have broader applications across food preservation and the related technologies.

The company plans to launch six space missions over the next three years, that could see a change in the field of agriculture.“This is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure,” said Nicolas Gaume, chief executive and co-founder of Space Cargo Unlimited.

The commercial mission is thanks to NASA opening the space station to more business opportunities like this and eventually even private astronaut missions. The supplies including an oven for baking chocolate chip cookies, Barley seeds from Budweiser and samples of carbon fibre used by Lamborghini sports cars are a part of the payload and will stay in space until January 2020.

However, this is not the first time wine bottles will go to space. A French astronaut reportedly took a bottle of wine aboard the Discovery shuttle in 1985 when the bottle had remained corked in orbit. Three Americans, two Russians and an Italian will be the crew members for this voyage.

Subhash Arora


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